Greek Productive Reconstruction, Environment & Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis on Monday addressed the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Production and Trade and referring to the raise of the special duty for the reduction of gas emissions (ETMEAR) blamed the Regulatory Authority for Energy (RAE) for the way the issue was handled.
Lafazanis briefed the committee members that Public Gas Corporation (DEPA) will announce considerable natural gas rate reductions next month.
The reduction of energy rates is an important issue for the government, Lafazanis said, adding that the way out of the crisis is directly linked with energy rate reduction and all efforts will focus on this direction.
He also said that despite difficulties as a result of the crisis, electricity rates will be lowered soon, adding that unpaid bills have skyrocketed and combined with other factors create additional difficulties to such an initiative.
On the issue of RAE, he said that the decision to raise ETMEAR was unacceptable and scandalous from a procedural point of view.
Lafazanis said that a legislative initiative will be undertaken to curb those authorities of RAE that are closely linked with the country’s government. He said that RAE had decided to increase ETMEAR, depending on consumer category, and kept this decision secret since December 31, 2014 until March 4, 2015 when it was published in the Government Gazette.
Lafazanis also referred to the procedure followed in the sale of the Natural Gas System Operator (DESFA), noting that it was not a privatization because it was sold to the Azerbaijani state-run company Socar. He clarified that the procedures for the sale of the company have advanced, adding that the government’s future stance will depend on pending European Competition Commission findings.
Referring to the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) issue, he said that the government supports the project because it will benefit the country and noted that the ministry has agreed with TAP to set up a joint committee to examine the proposals for offset benefits to Greece from the TAP consortium. He also did not rule out changes in the pipeline route in case of strong reactions by local communities.